NAIROBI Gunmen attacked military sites in Burundi’s capital on Friday and 12 of the assailants have been killed although 20 have been arrested following heavy fighting, the army stated.
Soldiers told Reuters at least five of their quantity had been also killed, but an official army spokesman said they have been only wounded in the latest flare-up in a nation that Western powers worry might be sliding back into ethnic conflict.
The sound of firing echoed across the capital Bujumbura throughout Friday following heavy gunfire and blasts erupted in the early hours. Residents said streets had been empty and police have been out in force at a time when men and women typically head to work.
The outbreak of violence, the worst considering that a failed coup in Might, is unnerving for a region that remains volatile two decades after the genocide in neighboring Rwanda.
The U.N. Safety Council was briefed on the developments in Burundi late on Friday. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Energy, who is president of the council for December, stated the 15-member body was ready to take into account “further measures.”
“The members of the Security Council demand that all armed groups place aside their arms and cease all forms of destabilizing activities in order to finish the cycle of violence and retaliation,” Power told reporters.
Until now, battle lines in Burundi’s crisis have followed the political divide. But Western powers and regional nations fear old ethnic rifts could reopen.
The United States stated it was concerned by the fighting and the African Union referred to as for dialogue.
The United States named for the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva to hold a specific session on Burundi next Thursday. The contact got the needed backing of 1-third of the body’s 47 members so the session will go ahead, the United Nations stated.
Burundi’s 12-year civil war, which ended in 2005, had pitted rebel groups of the Hutu majority, like 1 led by existing President Pierre Nkurunziza, against what was then an army led by the Tutsi minority. Rwanda has the same ethnic mix.
Evening-time gunfire and sporadic blasts have become typical in Bujumbura in the course of a crisis set off in April by Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, which opponents – frequently recognized as ‘Sindumuja’ – said violated a deal that ended the civil war. Nkurunziza won a disputed election in July.
But residents stated Friday’s flare-up was considerably a lot more intense.
“Sindumuja attempted to attack military camps but they failed,” presidential media adviser Willy Nyamitwe wrote on Twitter, describing the raids as “a diversion” to attempt to free of charge prisoners.
“Predicament is returning to normal as firearms are seized, numerous Sindumuja assailants killed or arrested,” he wrote.
FEARS ARMY COULD SPLINTER
Army spokesman Gaspard Baratuza told state radio 12 of the insurgents have been killed and 20 were detained after attempting to storm military bases to seize weapons. He said 5 soldiers were wounded. “The scenario has now normalized,” he added.
Earlier, a soldier who had spoken to colleagues inside a base in Bujumbura’s northern Ngagara district told Reuters at least two soldiers had been killed. An officer at internet sites in the south of the city mentioned 3 soldiers have been killed in these locations.
The soldiers asked not to be identified.
Kenya Airways, RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines all canceled their flights to Burundi. The Kenyan carrier mentioned there were no personnel to enable them to fly. But Nyamitwe said the airport was nevertheless open despite the cancellations.
Burundi’s political crisis led to the failed coup in May possibly. One particular of the generals behind that attempt stated in July the group nevertheless aimed to topple the president. Other plotters were caught and are due to face trial in the town of Gitega from Dec. 14.
Specialists voiced fears that the army, which was restructured following the civil war to include both expert troops and rebel fighters, may well fracture, igniting a broader conflict.
A deputy presidential spokesman wrote on Twitter that the cabinet was meeting as scheduled on Monday and would discuss the 2016 budget, but not the thought of declaring a state of emergency. He said the aim of the “armed gang” was to totally free prisoners.
Alongside the raid on Ngagara camp, two southern web sites have been attacked – ISCAM, which is a larger institute for officers, and a camp next to it, identified as BASE, soldiers said. Muha camp nearby was not a target regardless of earlier reports, they mentioned.
In the attacks on southern websites, a soldier stated the assailants, some of them wearing military uniforms, very first targeted a police station close to ISCAM. At the exact same time, the attackers launched an assault on BASE, said the soldier.
(Added reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana in Kigali, Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa and Edith Honan in Nairobi, and Tom Miles in Geneva, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations Writing by Edmund Blair Editing by Tom Heneghan and Ken Wills)